Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Alias, Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 (Jessica Jones Alias, #1)Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Basically, if you like the Jessica Jones show on Netflix, you will like this. It even has the same tone. Not much happens. Except the show has more wow, crazy moments than the graphic novel does. Heavy on prose and ironical humor. Jessica herself is impossible not to like, probably because of her flaws. She's cynical, drinks too much, and is a bit of a misanthrope. This is essentially a graphic novel about an ex-superhero turned private investigator who has turned her back on the superhero world, even though it keeps drawing her back in. So there is not a lot of epic battles and such. It's very grounded in everyday. Readers who are looking for a narrative/prose-driven graphic novel that deals with celebrity and the question of what happens afterwards, will appreciate this book.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 1Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Riveting stuff. Superman's rampage continues. He's decided that he needs to rule over mankind so he can keep it safe. Not everyone is down for it, so things come to a head between him and Batman. Heartbreaking, really. Batman will not give up. He's not made that way. Even he will take on a madman with unlimited power. Superman has lost his grip and he's developed a cult of personality around him. Very timely subject matter. Some leaders can do that, and that's when people have to make the truth clear. Even at great cost. Meanwhile, some galactic protectors need to decide if they will get in involved.

Batman is not able to to watch over Gotham (let's leave it at that), so Jim Gordon and his crew take up the mantle, along with the Birds of Prey. They have an asset in their favor to even the odds a little.

I wish I had written this review sooner, but it's so intense and affecting, and I'm not describing it well. Let's just suffice it to say that you can't read these books and be okay afterwards. It's good to be able to say, it's only fiction, and not all the DC books reflect this reality. Let's take this fiction and learn some lessons so we don't repeat these mistakes in real life, okay?

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Hopeless Maine: Personal Demons

Personal Demons (Hopeless, Maine, #1A)Personal Demons by Tom Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The artwork in this book was gorgeous, but the storyline feels underdeveloped, probably due to the lack of prose. It's a stylistic choice for the artist, having the male and female characters look so similar. It gives the characters an otherworldly beauty that is rather feminine on the whole. Not a dealbreaker--just interesting to me. I loved the dark Gothic feel. I'll pick up the next volume at my library.

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Constantine: Hellblazer, Volume 1: Going Down by Ming Doyle

Constantine: The Hellblazer, Volume 1: Going DownConstantine: The Hellblazer, Volume 1: Going Down by Ming Doyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A new Constantine series that feels like old Constantine. Nice. Yeah, it's got the tone and the feel of the older series. By that I mean the cringy, it's the "that's not right" feeling I get when I read old Constantine. They haven't cleaned up this version and made him PC for a "kinder" generation. I didn't like the artwork so much. It's a little squiggly for my tastes. Okay, yes I'll keep reading. It's Constantine.

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Harley Quinn, Vol.3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab by Amanda Conner

Harley Quinn, Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang StabHarley Quinn, Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab by Amanda Conner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my favorite one in this series. I'm glad I didn't give up. The silliness is tempered out a bit with good storytelling. Harley is much more of a heroic antiheroine instead of a neutral character who has no concept of right and wrong. Also, we get to see her psychiatrist roots in this book. There is still some gross humor, but not as over the top. Loved the Batman/Bruce Wayne storyline and the lesson about you might not want what you thought you did when you actually get it. A lot of good moments and this one actually had a feel good vibe to it. Not helping my Harley Quinn obsession here, folks.

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GI Joe: The Fall of GI Joe by Karin Traviss, Steve Kurth

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe Volume 1 by Karen Traviss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first GI Joe comic. I have liked GI Joe since I was a kid and the animated tv show came on with its famous (and I still use it), "...And Knowing is Part of the Battle" saying. I admit that I really checked this out because Baroness is on the cover. Even though she's a bad guy, I find her interesting, and I love her style. Sadly, she is barely in this book.

I think this story is really serious and tackled some intense issues. I didn't mind that, but I didn't think that it really captured the feel of the GI Joe team. I haven't read proceeding volumes (since this is my first one), so I not familiar with the events prior that lead to the team losing people and Duke going off on his own. Also, the fact that the government is about to shut down the GI Joe program.

This story seems focused on the main villain, a young man who went through the Cobra Cadet training but is now joining the Separatist group in his country, believing that Cobra is too moderate and extreme measures are required to win back his company's independence. I think that if I wasn't looking for a GI Joe book and more action, this would have been an interesting dramatic thriller suspense graphic novel. But since I was looking for a GI Joe book, it was disappointing.

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The Poe Estate by Polly Shulman

The Poe Estate (The Grimm Legacy, #3)The Poe Estate by Polly Shulman
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is an homage to Gothic fiction lovers aimed at younger readers. I loved that about this book. It's metafiction that takes it even deeper. There is story within a story within a story. I read The Wells Bequest first, which is the science fiction volume of this series. I liked it, but I liked this more because I love Gothic/Classic horror. It's apparent that Shulman does as well. I made a note of all the books she alluded to. Many I had read, but I got ideas for others to look up and read.

The overall concept was well done, and some elements were quite serious for a MG level book. This book deals with death in a very matter-of-fact way. Suki's sister died and her ghost is her protector. Except Kitty is getting to be problematic in her protectiveness, leading to Suki's reputation as being weird, and Suki needs to let her go. Her parents have to move in with a great, great-aunt into a house that is part of her family's strange and tragic history. As Suki gets drawn into an adventure related to her ancestor's tie to the house and interacts with employees from the New York Circulating Repository, she learns that it's important to accept her sister's death and try to move on.

I couldn't give this book higher than 3.5 stars because it is written in too lightweight a fashion. Some serious topics are put out there and there are deeper levels that don't get delved into with this book. I feel that there was a longer book inside of this one that didn't get written. I understand that some things had to be pared down due to format, but I would have liked to see that other book that this book shows potential for turned out. On the good side, I love how multicultural it is, and the fact that all families aren't the same, and that hardworking people experience financial difficulties and lose their homes and jobs. Not because they are lazy, but because of things outside their control. Suki is a strong young girl to go through all of this and keep on going. I had mad respect for her and her family. I cried about her sister and some of the tragic events from her family's past.

I love the metafiction concept. I could read about that for days. I could have spent hours more delving into this interest world that Shulman created. I wish I had 100 more pages of this gem. I will always be a cheerleader for middle grade fiction. While I was somewhat disappointed with this book, I would still recommend it to readers who love classic and Gothic horror.

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Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Stories by Edgar Allen Poe

Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories (Library Edition)Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I checked this audiobook out to celebrate the October Spooky mood. I have been an admirer of Poe since I was a grade school student, and what IMurders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories (Library Edition)Murders in the Rue Morgue & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I checked this audiobook out to celebrate the October Spooky mood. I have been an admirer of Poe since I was a grade school student, and what I've read by him, I've loved. I have been meaning to read more by him, but haven't taken the time. Audiobooks are such a good way to maximize my time because I can listen and do other things, so I grabbed this one. In all honesty, it wasn't very scary or even eerie (with the exception of "The Raven. " I am glad that I did listen to it though. I had never read any of these stories. I could have done without a couple of them, but overall, it was enjoyable, and this four hour audiobook format was a good way to keep me company as I did other things. The narrator's voice was a bit irritating, with a nasally tone that wasn't my favorite. He was good with accents and voices though.

Here are my thoughts on the stories:

"Murders in the Rue Morgue" --I love a good detective story, and this is the first detective story, and that is to be celebrated. I saw a lot of Sherlock Holmes in C. Auguste Dupin and Watson in his anonymous friend. It was a great mystery with a crazy resolution. I never would have guessed. My only issue with it is that it's basically telling and not showing. Dupin seems very pompous in his way of analyzing people, and he seems very self-important. He shows the observant trait of a good detective, which Poe terms ratiocination. I loved the twist on how each witness thought the guttural speaker was a foreigner, but from a place that had never been. In light of the resolution, that was a very nice touch. I give this four stars because it's impressive as the first detective story. I think all the detective fiction readers and writers owe Mr. Poe a great debt.

"The Purloined Letter" --I didn't find this one as impressive as the first. It seemed very simplistic, and there was no real tension. I do give Dupin props for his handy solving of a mystery that had the police stumped, but he's so obnoxiously arrogant about it. Sherlock with some aristocratic French attitude thrown in. 3 stars.

"The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade" --I didn't care much for this, sadly. I love Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights stories, and I don't think this added anything to the mystique of the stories. I felt like it was full of weirdness, way too random, with bizarre diversions in the storytelling, but at the same time, really quite boring. Besides, it ruined the best aspect about the stories, so that was a downer for me. Probably my least favorite story by Poe. 2 stars.

"A Descent into the Maelstrom" --This felt more like a Jack London story than a Poe story. It's good to see that he does venture into straight adventure, no pun intended. I felt it was an average read. It didn't have much of an impact on me, but I didn't dislike it like the previous novel. 2.5 stars.

"The Raven"-- A classic by this author. I love poetry, especially eerie poetry. I admit I don't like overly long poems, so this was a nice length. Long enough to get a reader involved, with a beautiful rhythm to it. Listening to this was a lot of fun. I think I would need to read it, to delve more meaning out of it. It's a bit oblique, in my opinion. 3.5 stars

"Masque of the Red Death" --I really appreciated listening to this. I have seen the movie with Vincent Price and thought it was very clever. It's interesting how they managed to get a full-length movie out of this, since it was very short. I think the tone was nicely Gothic and sinister, and it has an impactful statement about the concept of believing that being wealthy and high status makes one exempt from all ills. And there is something very repugnant about indulging debauchery and hedonism when people are suffering around you. Death finds everyone of us. 4 stars.

Conclusion: Four hours of my life that I can't say I regret. It helped that I was finishing a project for school at the time, so it kept me busy. I would say that one's life is not added to much by "Scheherazade" and "A Descent into the Maelstrom", but I recommend the other stories.

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Lafcadio Hearn's The Faceless Ghost and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel

Lafcadio Hearn's Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan: A Graphic Novel by Sean Michael Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautiful art with eerie storytelling. I wish this was a series. I would so keep reading these. I still intend to read the original stories, but this was great as a visual format to some great classic horror I hadn't yet got around to reading except for one very scary story by Hearn I read in an anthology. If you like Japanese horror movies, check out the source material.

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Hellboy and the B.P.R.D, Vol.1: 1952

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: 1952 by Mike Mignola
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weird. Yeah, I know that 'weird' is essential to Hellboy. But this was really weird. A hodge podge of horror with science fiction. Hellboy is awesome as always. His team kind of blurs together for me. Good action, but nothing that stood out and made me say wow. Having said that, it's Hellboy, so it's good.

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Kraken Rising by Greig Beck

Kraken Rising (Alex Hunter, #6)Kraken Rising by Greig Beck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alex Hunter, the Arcadian, goes back to Antarctica, or at least, beneath it, and faces an old menace. And we, the readers, are along for the ride. This book is as much horror as action. I have always thought as the polar ice caps melt, something will be revealed that we may not want unleashed in the modern world. Pathogens that could wipe out humanity. This book touches on these fears, both at a macro and micro level. The world beneath Antarctica as a whole seemed out to get to the explorers. There are moments in this book that made my skin crawl and made me wince. I didn't read this before bed, but I can imagine it might have given me some night terrors. I do admit to a phobia about infection and pathogenesis.

Alex is a complex character. As much a hero as a man on the brink of psychosis. He received a treatment that saved his life and made him a super-soldier, but has also awakened an Other inside of him that is basically a deranged psychopathic killer. It takes an incredible amount of effort to Alex to surpress that part of himself. Alex had to leave behind his loved ones, including Aimee his ex-lover and the child they made together. But he will have to come out of the dark when they are both in danger.

But a huge problem is that China and United States may start a global thermonuclear war because of the conflict arising from their altercations at the South Pole and a lost US submarine. In order to neutralize this conflict, Alex has to go find that sub. The sub search will put them in the crosshairs of an ancient and powerful beast, a creature of biblical fame, and a species that has adapted over millions of years to its sub-oceanic/sub-Antarctica environment.

This is not the second book in the series, but it's actually fine to read this after Beneath the Dark Ice. Stuff happens in the books before this, but the author does a good job of not letting that be an issue to understanding the events of this book.

The gore factor is fairly high and so is the gross out level. Some of the stuff in this place literally made my skin crawl. I'm a germaphobe, and this has plenty of triggers for folks like me. Like I said, this whole habitat is out to get the humans who trespass. To the environment and its inhabitants, humans are just prey. High body count, so be warned about that as well. I liked all the high tech gadgets. I am not a gun person in real life, but I enjoy reading about hardware in books. There is also plenty of excellent action sequences, of many kinds. Try going man to giant kraken and see how well that turns out for you. Generally not good. And don't think that you can hide from it. Oh no. There's no hiding.

Recommended to readers who like action/adventure with sci-fi horror elements.

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The Punisher, Volume 3: Last Days

The Punisher, Volume 3: Last DaysThe Punisher, Volume 3: Last Days by Nathan Edmondson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Definitely the darkest book in this series. Very violent and bloody but also with a sense of futility. The Punisher has to ask himself what he's doing and why, and he's placed in the situation of being seen as Public Enemy Number One, when he's just doing what he can to protect society from violent criminals who want to kill and destroy others. The conclusion is a segway that feels odd and not strictly harmonious with the overall story arc of this series. The ending makes me question if this is truly the end for the Punisher. Of course, I'll keep reading these if they make more.

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Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman

Secret WarsSecret Wars by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this graphic novel. The concept was grand and expansive, but ultimately confusing. Maybe a big issue with it is that the Fantastic Four characters are the core of the story. I don't find them that interesting. I thought I would like the idea of an alternative earth created out of necessity, but I didn't much. The world seems very nebulous in its composition, and the story keeps going back to Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic and Victor Von Doom, who is God Doom in this story. I'm not sure what I was reading. I'm not sayin' I'm brilliant, but I like to think I should have been able to dissect what the point of this story was. By and large, it just felt like a wasted opportunity to get so many people from the Marvel Universe together in one story. With current events, I am feeling that whole all powerful dictator thing and group think as a story concept, but this needed to be better written to impact me.

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Inustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 2 by Tom Taylor

Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 2Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Two, Vol. 2 by Tom Taylor
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

This series gives me a stomach ache in a good way. This intense storytelling. Superman has completely gone off the deep end and he's barely recognizable to those who love and respect him. Those who once counted Superman as friend and ally are having to choose which side to take. Superman has become a totalitarian who believes that the only solution is to control everyone and to suppress any dissent. Of course, Batman is not going to go along with that, and it has ended disastrously for the once friends and allies. Humans are rising up and taking their place in the fight, because it's their world too. They fight alongside the heroes who have chosen to go against Superman.

I have a huge love for Harley Quinn, so it was nice to see her show up and her relationship with Black Canary, finding common ground. Also, Zatanna shows up in this book. Another favorite DC heroine of mine. I liked seeing so many unlikely allies come together in the fight, but it's very painful to see the fall of enduring heroes in the DC Universe.

Injustice is huge and epic. One cannot read this series and not feel the foundations of the DC World shake under one's feet. When I finish these books, I still feel the tremors long after I put the book away.

Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.

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Alias: Jessica Jones, Volume 2: Going Home

Alias, Vol. 2: Come HomeAlias, Vol. 2: Come Home by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This volume is very dialogue heavy. Such a different sort of Marvel title. Really not any action. Lots of social commentary that is very timely. I can understand 100% Jessica's disgust at the pastor who was rehearsing a speech that is despicable, and he truly believes in. Ugh. Yeah, that's definitely a pet peeve of mine, so I was feeling Jessica. Jessica goes to small town America to help find a missing girl. The trail reveals a rot in the small town and gives Jessica one more thing to be disillusioned about. Not that Jessica needs that. Oh and she goes on a date with Scott Lang. You can see a lot of the creators' worldview in this, but I think things that need to be said and addressed are done in such a way without being preachy.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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The Breach by Patrick Lee

The Breach (Travis Chase, #1)The Breach by Patrick Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After several false starts, I got into this book. I read most of it on the way to Illinois for Thanksgiving. This is one of those books that takes a while to get started, but once you're in, you're in. The concept is so crazy, it takes a while to figure out what's going on. I think the closest comparison I could make is the TV show "Fringe". It's that kind of crazy. Also it's the kind of thing that people who have tons of conspiracy theories and deep distrust for the establishment, corporations and the government will read and say, "I told you so." The ending is a bit of a mindblower. I am still trying to decide how I felt about it.

I am no physics genius, but I love the concept of time travel. I like the ethics and philosophical aspects. You know, the whole grandfather complex thing and the "if you could go forward or back, would you?" kind of thing. Also, there's the whole what happens when we open doors to places we don't know anything about. Should some doors stay closed?

As a scientist, I have asked myself that many times. I tend to be a big fan of scientific ethics and I think that you can't throw that out just in the search of knowledge. Seek it, but seek it carefully and cautiously. Some of the inventions in this book, I can't even. I mean, they should be buried in a very deep hole somewhere. I pray some of this will never exist in real life.

So anyway, my opinions of science and time travel aside, this trippy book really grabbed me and didn't let me go. There is a high body count and I asked myself what the hell is wrong with some people. They abandon right and wrong for power and ugly stuff happens. That's a big part of this book. Also, on the good side, there are people who will put their lives on the line to do the right thing. That takes a lot of moral courage and I feel that even from fiction, we can draw courage to face those tough ethical decisions in our own lives.

This one has some blood and guts, but nothing gratuitous. I would advise readers to plan to pick up the next book. I have it, and I will try to get to it in the nearish future.

This is my second book by Patrick Lee. I read Runner first, and I like his style. He's not afraid to go there and put the reader through their paces. He doesn't give them a cut and dried book. He makes them think about what they are reading. I like that in an author.

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Daredevil: Back in Black, Volume 1: Chinatown by Charles Soule

Daredevil: Back in Black, Volume 1: ChinatownDaredevil: Back in Black, Volume 1: Chinatown by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this more than I did. I think it's because I loved other Daredevil book so much. I didn't care for the artwork. For lack of a better word, it was too scratchy looking for me, which didn't work well with the monochromatic colors. Also, it was hard to keep up with the storyline. Although there was an interesting twist with the villain, and things get crazy when Hand ninjas show up. Also I did like that Daredevil's new sidekick is Asian. It might have been something of a plotpoint, but at least there is POC representation here.

I think I have high expectations when it comes to Daredevil, from my other reading of this character and the movie, and most certainly the recent Netflix series. It's not bad. It's decent. Just not as great as I was hoping.

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Patriot Acts by Greg Rucka

Patriot Acts (Atticus Kodiak, #6)Patriot Acts by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I freely admit that I intend to read everything by Greg Rucka I can get my hands on. He can write very well. Whether it's graphic novels or full-length fiction. I checked this audiobook out from my lad I did. It's not the first in the series. But it's okay. I got the jist on what happened. I will want to go back and read the previous books. As it was, this was a really excellent suspense novel. It starts almost in medias res, but that's okay. I liked that I was left tl learn about what was happening as things went along.

Kodiak is a good hero. He's a tough guy. He knows more than a thing or two about protecting and going on the offensive. He was in the army and he's a body guard by trade. He ends up on the black side of things when his name is outed as a traitor. He goes on the run with a shadowy assassin who has made some enemies, but has decided she doesn't want to kill anymore. At the same time, he's very empathetic and grieves deeply. I liked seeing that duality and his determination to see his mission through.

I think this would make an excellent movie. That's one of the things I love about Rucka's books. They are well-written prose novels, but could serve equally well as movies or television shows. This book is in 1st person and that works very well for this book. The first action scene at the gas station was high level tension and extremely well executed. The tension is maintained very well as Atticus and Drama go on the run together trying to stay one step ahead of the folks hunting them. And then they have to turn the tables. Everything is well thought up. No running around half-cocked. This pair has to play the long game, and the ending is satisfying even in its near bloodlessness. Drama is equally well-developed. She's the kind of action heroine I love and I wish I could see more of in movies/tv although we have some great ones with Sydney Bristow (Alias), Jane Doe (Blindspot), and although not so much physically Olivia Pope (Scandal). She is 100% lethal, but she's world weary and has learned the hard way how killing saps and destroys a person's soul and humanity. That's how you make a killer, convince them they are no longer human and that other people are below human. She had rejected that training at great cost.

The narrator was excellent. His pace and tone perfect for Atticus, a man who was world-weary and at the same time, deeply angry about something that happens in this book. And with good reason. I like how Drama's lines are spoken in a monotone that fits the character, a woman who has undergone incredibly tragic circumstances and was essentially trained to kill from an early age. I think this book is years old, but it actually relates to current events very well. It's a strange world and your friends aren't always friends and vice versa.

This isn't a long book, but it's perfectly executed. I do recommend this one.

Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us, Year Three, Volume 1 by Tom Taylor et al

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three Vol. 1Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sorcerer John Constantine has been put in the position of assembling a team of supernaturals to take on the greatest menace the world has ever known, authoritarian Superman who has decided he will save humanity by protecting it, and ruthlessly dealing with his enemies. He has amassed a huge toll of fallen superheroes who are working against him with the help of some heavies in the supernatural DC universe. He has aligned himself with villains who care nothing about murdering people. It's just terrible stuff, but riveting reading. Readers won't come out of this series without their minds being messed up. I can't get over how awful it is in a world where Superman is a bad guy, and the whole superhero community is fighting each other because of taking sides for and against him.

This book is timely in that it presents some timely themes about our society. Where freedom in a society is taken away due to fears (or exploiting) about the safety of humanity. Slavery and authoritarianism doesn't save anyone. There is no such thing as benevolent slavery or obstruction of basic rights. I hate that Superman was so mentally and emotionally broken that he ended up this way and led a lot of people to their destruction in the process.

Favorite parts: Harley Quinn, Zatana, John Constantine snark, seeing normals fight the good fight against superpowered heroes.

Least Favorite parts: Gruesome details of DC superheroes that I like. The tragedy of these events.

This series will stick with me for a long time. I think it should be a miniseries on Netflix although it would just about kill me.

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Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

CryoBurn (Vorkosigan Saga, #14)CryoBurn by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew this wasn't the first book in the series, but I decided to check it out from the library and listen to it anyway. Very enjoyable. Miles is an appealing lead character. I loved that Miles isn't your typical hero as far as looks. He's not very tall and he has medical issues that have affected his looks. It doesn't matter at all, because he has presence. And I love a smart guy who's solving mysteries. Miles is more or less a space detective. I like detective in any setting, but it was fun to read a science fiction book with detectives in it. I read this while I was working on my final painting for my class, and it more than kept me company. The narrator was good, he had a pleasant voice, sort of like an older English butler. It worked for me.

The story involves corporate corruption and cryostasis. Quite a combination. I liked how multicultural the cast of characters were. It sort of reminded me of how in Firefly, the Chinese culture has dominated and its reflected in the dialogue and names of people. In this case, there is a good mix of various Asian cultures, along with other ethnicities. There is plenty of suspense, but a lot of wry humor, which is always welcome. It didn't mess things up for me that I hadn't read the first book. Instead I am intrigued to read about Miles' parents Aral and Cordelia, and fortunately I do have that book.

I know I'm not giving this book justice in this review. My brain is pretty fried, so this will have to do.

I recommend this.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lazarus, Vol. 4: Poison by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark (Illustrator), Owen Freeman (Cover Artist)

Lazarus, Vol. 4: PoisonLazarus, Vol. 4: Poison by Greg Rucka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The tentative truces between the Families are crumbling, in the wake of the concave and the attempted assassination of the Carlyle scion. Outright war in certain contested territories has broken out, and the Carlyle family's holdings are at risk in a war with another family. Forever, the Lazarus of the Carlyle family goes with selected army recruits to reclaim control. Forever is the draw of this series for me. She is a fearless warrior who fights for her family, but follows her conscience. But she's not the only hero in this book. The people who are considered serfs by the families are heroes and warriors in their own right.

While it's clear that there are good people who are entrenched in this horrible system of lands and people owned by few people who control all the resources. Whose lives seem to mean nothing, but are used as collateral or for what they can provide the family.

I believe this volume examines the whole feudal system, and how their power games eventually become destabilized. They feel safe in their ivory towers, and perhaps they are for a while, but eventually, all things come to an end. And they bring everyone else down with them. But in the meantime, they'll continue to play their game of chess on a massive scale.

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Low, Vol.1: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender, Greg Tocchini (Illustrator)

Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of HopeLow, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of hope that never fades. Even in the face of the unimaginable horror a woman faces. The power of her hope keeps her children seeking a future that is safe and free from the poison sun that is slowly extinguishing life on the planet.

This book was really depressing. While I liked the message of optimism and never giving up, I don't like the fact that this woman's hope was dragged through deeper and ranker mud each time. It's almost like a slap in the face to the reader. This is what believing and hoping gets you. Nothing but sorrow and anguish.

I don't know if I would call myself an optimist. I believe in the power of good and power of love. I'm a Christian, after all. But I also believe that people will suffer in this life and that sometimes their hopes aren't realized in this life, but in eternity. It says in Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." That's my approach to fiction. I know that bad things happen in life, and the same in books, but I need to have some good with my bad when I read a fiction story. I don't like reading books where I feel worse about life after I finish it than I did when I started. This probably my major problem with this book.

The artwork was well done, and the story itself is suspenseful and exciting. It's just so very depressing. Since this is the first book in the series, I hope that hope does stay alive in this poor woman's heart, despite all that she's suffered.

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The Dresden Files: Fool Moon, Volume 1 by Jim Butcher (Author), Mark Powers, Chase Conley (Illustrator)

The Dresden Files: Fool Moon, Volume 1The Dresden Files: Fool Moon, Volume 1 by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the graphic novel version of the second book in the Dresden Files series. I loved the book and the graphic novel does a satisfying job of representing the prose version. Of course, the story is paired down, but the artwork makes up for it. It's interesting the way Dresden is represented in the graphic novel. It's not quite how I see him. He's more macho and superheroic-looking in this incarnation. One notable aspect of book is the action scenes. Right on par with the written narrative. The colors are vivid and active. In conclusion, these graphic novels don't take the place of the prose books, but they are a nice adjunct to them.

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The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

The Forbidden LibraryThe Forbidden Library by Django Wexler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the idea of this book, about people whose magical ability is to read themselves into books. Appropriately enough, they are called "Readers". Alice is a recently orphaned girl who is taken in by a supposed great-uncle to stay at his estate, which he calls the Library.

It turns out that there is a library, a place full of danger, with possible answers on her father's death. Alice learns that all is not at all as it seems. The Library is sinister and has a life of its own, a doorway that leads to worlds even more dangerous.

I liked what was there, but there are big gaps in the story. I read a fair amount of books for middle grade readers, and this one feels like it's paced and laid out for a younger audience than necessary for the greater maturity of the storyline.

This is an interesting idea, but seems short and simplistic in execution. There are a few active scenes loosely connected by an underlying, although thin narrative. The story gets to a certain level, but doesn't go past that. By and large, the characters feel underdeveloped, save Alice, and possibly Isaac. The ending is not satisfying. Not a cliffhanger, but near enough. The reader deliberately left with questions. I find that a bit manipulative. Not so much a natural close to the first story, but one in which the reader is left hanging.

I liked the lead character, young Alice, a girl left parentless, and seeking answers. She goes from being timid to gaining empowerment in her new identity. I loved her new companion, Ashes, a talking cat. It appears the writer spends quite a bit of time around cats. He has their mannerisms down pat. Isaac's relationship with Alice is intriguing, but his characterization barely scratches the surface. The villains are shadowy figures that never coalesce in this book.

There's enough here in this story to make for a series that would be worth pursuing, although there were some disappointing aspects. It will be interesting to see where the story goes next, but I hope the next book is better developed.

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Punisher Vs. The Marvel University

Punisher vs. the Marvel UniversePunisher vs. the Marvel Universe by Garth Ennis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is exactly what the name implies. Frank Castle takes on the various Marvel heroes, and it's usually not pretty. The stories span from the earlier (and cheesier) Marvel days to the more recent Greg Rucka run. My favorite is still the Rucka run. The artwork steals my heart. I love it. Castle is scaled down to hard edges and determination and his partner Rachel Cole-Alves has that same edge of determination in her eyes.

The first story is a what if, the question being that the marvel heroes (the Avengers) unwittingly caused the death of Castle's family, and as such, Castle becomes a one-man kill squad who sets out to eliminate every super-powered person on earth. That was not fun reading. While Castle is always an antihero, I don't like when he's the out and out bad guy. Having him systematically kill all the Marvel heroes was damaging to my psyche and my perception of the Punisher.

There's a few stories my feelings are in-between about. I don't mind when Castle comes into opposition with the Marvel heroes when they don't end in lethal confrontation. There is one story arc where he's very, very mean to Wolverine. Understandable that Wolverine more or less can't be killed, but Castle was downright cruel in the way he incapacitated Logan.

In the last story, it's a post-apocalyptic scenario in which Castle is one of the few remaining humans who hasn't been infected by a plague that has made people into carnivorous monsters, if not zombies. The remaining folks have split up into tribes run by ruthless leaders. Castle's mission is to eliminate the monsters and protect the innocent, and the mission is everything.

Punisher is always single-minded. His psychology is very simple. See criminals punished and deal with bad guys with finality. Typically, he doesn't kill innocents or even good guys, but in the first story, he crosses that line. I didn't like seeing him that way. Anyone who reads this book has to realize that Punisher is definitely not the hero, if he ever is.

Definitely worth reading for Punisher fans.

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Night Game by Christine Feehan

Night Game (GhostWalkers, #3)Night Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reread in the Month of August, 2016.

Who doesn't love Gator? I certainly do. Gator definitely meets his match in sassy and lethal Iris aka Flame Johnson. Sparks fly from the beginning. Flame steals his heart just like she steals information. She keeps him running, and together they find out who is kidnapping songbirds from the bayou. Flame is determined to right wrongs and protect those who can't protect themselves. She knows intimately how it feels to be abused and misused as one of Whitney's childhood experiments. She's living on borrowed time, but she wants to make the most of that time. She really doesn't have time for an affair with sexy Bayou boy, Gator, but he makes it hard to say no. He's everything she ever wanted in a lover.

Gator and Flame are perfect for each other. Both fiery and protective. While Gator acts like he doesn't have a care in the world, he takes his responsibilities seriously. And he knows Flame is all his. She's used to protecting others, no to anyone protecting her. When he has to make a choice for her health, he's knows that it could damage their relationship, but he'd rather be in a world with Flame alive, even if they aren't together.

Wyatt, who is the hero of Viper Game, is Gator's brother, and it was very cool to visit with his younger version in this story. Also great to see Nonny in this book and how much she bonds with Flame. Flame finds the family she was missing for so very long, and the she can trust the GhostWalkers, even if she doesn't trust Whitney.

Loved rereading this!

****** Reread from June 3- June 6, 2012
My thoughts:

This book series sets me on fire. I know I talk about these books way too much.I can't help it. I just adore them so much! First of all, I find the idea brilliant, and I love the interactions between the characters. The heroes and heroines complement each other, and the passion is fiery. And the action and kick*ssery freaking awesome! The elements of family, both blood and by choice make these book shine, and make me wish I was a GhostWalker (yeah, I know that's crazy, but I kinda do).

Although I loved the first two books, Night Game definitely moves faster, and the chemistry between Gator and Flame keeps the story flying. As I loved it the first time, the banter is just wonderful. Humor is used perfectly, to keep a story that has dark undertones from being excessively dreary.

--Flame: Flame is an outstanding heroine. Life has shaped her into a strong and intrepid woman. She truly is kick*ss. I honestly love all the GhostWalker heroines, and it's hard to choose my favorites, but she might be in my top three. She has very deep scars that keep her from easily giving her heart to Gator, and that is utterly understandable. However, she has a very loving, warm spirit that makes it hard to cut herself off from others. Near the end, when she is so angry at Gator, I could see why. But I am glad she comes to realize that he had his reasons and his love for her will cause him to make choices that she might not always agree with. However, she needs that kind of man, and she knows it.

--Gator: A complex mix of qualities. I love his charm. He has seen the worse in life and has sins on his soul, but he still manages to keep a smile on his face and a positive outlook. But the guy is highly lethal! Loved him in the first book books, and adored him early in this book. I didn't think I'd be as drawn to him because he's the laid-back, carefree GW, but boy was I wrong. Gator snuck up on me, and on the reread, I smile at how irresistible he is. Flame doesn't stand a chance. Neither did I!

The action in this book is off the charts. And I love that Flame is in the thick of it. The suspense elements are quite dark, since they are looking for a young woman from the bayou that was kidnapped and run into a group of men who hate women. I like how they handle those men. I like it very much.

As usual, another well deserved five stars. So glad I took the time to reread this series!

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Original Review:

Another outstanding book for the Ghostwalker series. It was awesome and unputdownable. I loved Flame and I loved Gator. They had a special relationship, and were made for each other. The banter was wonderful. I loved how Flame totally fit into his family like a missing puzzle piece. Loved how Gator wanted to take care of Flame, but also respected that she was a tough woman and could take care of herself. Flame is an alpha heroine, but she was never annoying and didn't get herself into scrapes she couldn't get herself out of. The bayou was another character that seduced me. I don't think I'd like the humidity, but I'd love the animals and the tranquility of the swamps. Again, it was great to see the other Ghost Walkers and to enjoy the camaraderie between them. What Flame suffered ripped a hole in my heart but filled me with admiration. She was an incredibly strong woman, and I loved that Gator got that and never tried to change her or mold her. He was happy with her the way she was. The action was incredible and intense. I was happy on all fronts as I love action/adventure to accompany my beloved romance story. I am so in love with this series. Please keep writing many more, Ms. Feehan.

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Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan

Conspiracy Game (GhostWalkers, #4)Conspiracy Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reread in the month of August, 2016

My sister and I are doing a buddy read, although I've zipped ahead. I can't help it. These books are so addictive to me.

Great to experience Jack and Briony's story again. This book has practically nonstop action, which is great, but I also loved the interpersonal moments between Jack and Briony, Jack and his brother Ken, and with the other GhostWalkers. This is well named. There is a serious conspiracy, Whitney has decided that he wants to take the GhostWalker program to the second generation, starting with pairing Jack and Briony. He doesn't mind moving people like chess pieces, even though it ended up with Ken being horribly tortured, and killing Briony's parents.

Jack is a hard man, but Briony finds his heart and teaches him to love without fear. One of my personal favorites in a romance story is a hard man who falls for a woman. He's not a marshmallow in general, but for Briony, most definitely.

I almost want to reread this book again, but I know at least I can keep moving and read all the wonderful books that follow this one.

*******Reread 6/11-6/12/2012
My Thoughts:

I did not want to put this book down, which is saying something for a reread. I feel that as much as I loved the first three books, I can see the storyline coming together in a lovely way, and I can imagine that Ms. Feehan is as excited at writing these books as I am a reading them.

Jack is hardcore and dark. I loved him. I think that he was authentic. I can imagine with his tragic family past, he would go down that path. What I appreciated was that for self-image, Jack is not the unworthy man that he thinks he is. For all his ability to kill with ice water in his veins and his gruff way of expressing himself. He shows a sense of honor and integrity, and the ability to be tender and loving. He's what Dr. Bill Winston would consider a transition figure. Instead of continuing the cycle of violence that his father perpetuated, he chooses something different. Despite the fact that he believed himself unable to love, it's clear that he does love deeply. One of the best things about this book is the way he takes care of the two most important people in his life, Briony, and his brother Ken. Actions always speak louder than words. Not a man that a lot of women could love, but I think the right woman definitely could love him. And that woman is Briony.

Briony is a woman who shows what courage is. She feels that she is always afraid of everything, and she hates that about herself. Sometimes we can't help being afraid, but what we do in the face of that fear is the really important thing. Briony has fought to live in a world that is hostile to her because of her psychic abilities. Being around people causes her pain and anguish. And with her family profession, she is around a lot of people, and works through that pain to do something that could be life-threatening everyday as a high-wire performer. When she encounters Jack Norton, she acts as a champion, continually facing her fears and not allowing herself to be boxed in or caged by them. She takes steps that make me quake in my boots, and I loved her for it. I am a broken record. I really do appreciate the heroines in this series. Each one unique and wonderful.

Even though Ken is a secondary character. He is a very important one. His role in this book is crucial and adds delightful flavor to the book. He shows without words that Jack is not the lacking man that he thinks, but also augments Briony's understanding of Jack in important ways. He pokes, prods and matchmakes this couple together, and provides some delightful comic relief. He helps to makes this book the successful read that it is.

This book focuses more closely on the particular couple in focus than the GhostWalkers as a group, which some readers may like. I always enjoy the fellowship of this group, so I missed that, but the more intimate dynamics of Briony and Jack along with Ken definitely make for a rich read. The GhostWalkers show up a little, so that was good. I love how this story forwards the overlying storyline. The conspiracy thickens as we become aware that things are not as they seem, and the mastermind of the GhostWalker plan has even more sinister plans. Even on second read, this book makes me so excited to read the subsequent books!

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Original Review:

This book rocked my world. which is why I made myself put it down after four am to go to bed. When I woke up this morning, I immediately reached for it to pick up where I left off. Jack is a hero after my heart. I love the dangerous, gamma heroes, and I liked that he did worry that he was too dangerous and too intense to be with a woman. But when it came to Briony and his unborn babies, he's a marshmallow but will kill or die for them. The relationship between Jack and his twin Ken was really cool. I was glad that Briony and Ken got along so well. I liked Briony's brothers and how they protected her when danger came at her.

The plotline was pretty unique. I love pregnancy storylines anyway, but the pregnancy theme was used in such an unforgettable and creative way. Imagine a plot to pair you up with a warrior so you can breed second generation warrior offspring. Pretty interesting. Both Briony and Jack worried that the intense connection between them was just engineered. Maybe it started that way but they were definitely fated to be mated.

The action was incredible and there is no question that Jack and Ken are badasses, and so is Briony. She has tremendous inner strength to survive as an empath in a family that is full of loud people and as a performer in a circus. You can't help but admire her and you know that she was meant for Jack.

I can't help but fall more in love with Christine Feehan as an author. She knows how to write men that will keep your interest and keep you drooling. And the women are so perfect for them and admirable in their own right. This is one book that I didn't want to end. But at least I get to read Ken's book next. Yay!

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Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer

The Opal Deception  (Artemis Fowl, #4)The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a great comeback from the third book, which wasn't my favorite. The action level was high, and the villain was more than a worthy match for Artemis, Butler and Holly Short. There is a very intense and tragic moment that is the catalyst for what follows in this book. Holly thought she'd seen the last of Artemis, but when the chips fall down, she's rushing to save him and Butler and knows that he's the only one who can deal with the villain, the nefarious Opal Koboi.

The characteristic wry humor is here, but Colfer takes things seriously in many ways (no patronizing tone). Artemis might be fourteen, but he is a mature fourteen who doesn't view the world from the vantage point of a child. I was happy to see Butler in the action as much as Artemis, and their back and forth, and that of Artemis with Holly, is what makes these books so enjoyable.

Opal is a very evil villain, not troubled by any morals that would preclude murder or even feeding a boy to bloodthirsty trolls. What makes it even worse is she looks like a cute little girl. I was very happy to see her dealt with in a fitting manner by Artemis and Co.

This is a clever and enjoyable series that many younger readers and some older ones will enjoy.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

City of Death by Sarwat Chadda

The City of DeathThe City of Death by Sarwat Chadda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is even darker than the first book. Ash's problems grow exponentially. He suffers a terrible personal loss that drives him over the edge and forces him to return to the place of origin of his dark powers: India. This time, he is following the trail of Alexander Savage, his nemesis with strange companions, the street thief John and Parvati, a half-demon girl with a very ancient heritage. Ash has to face that the person he was before will never fit again. Too much has happened, and integrating all his past selves into that mundane existence doesn't work.

I know little to nothing about Indian mythology and folklore, but this book fills in a lot of those gaps. Ash has powers endowed by the black goddess, Kali, and that means that he draws from death energies. A horrible thing when it becomes apparent that those closest to him give him even more energy. Ash is learning the cost of his abilities and what powers they give him. He gains the accumulated knowledge of his past lives, but must suffer through the violent memories of those past selves and for them not to take control of him. The people, history, and places of India are vividly illustrated in this book.

Chadda writes excellent action, and there are no opportunities to be bored. Ash is an ideal hero, likable and snarky, and while he's powerful, he has not allowed those powers to give him a sense of overpowering arrogance, knowing how flawed those abilities truly are.

This book isn't for those who balk at seeing young people in danger. Oh, there is plenty of danger for the youngsters in this book. Some blood and guts, but not over the top. Ash and his companions end up in some nasty scrapes, and the bad guys aren't afraid of harming a young boy, or anyone else who gets in the way.

The characterizations are complex and layered. There are no blacks and whites, but instead each person has a little of both inside of them. Ash has to decided what path he will take and what he is willing to sacrifice to defeat Alexander Savage and to gain his greatest hope in this book.

The narrator does an excellent job with the various accents, Indian and British, not stereotyping either. I have enjoyed both books on audiobook and I hope to continue listening to the series in the future.

This series is a distinctive one, touching on a culture that is not often explored in young adult books. While the ending isn't strictly a cliff-hanger, it ends in a way that will make readers eager and ready for the next book, myself included. I'm looking forward to more adventures with Ash Mistry.

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Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All HeroJohnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This was a cute graphic novel. Lots of randomness and improbability. The hero is very ordinary, but he gets into the most extraordinary scrapes. At the heart, he's a guy in love with his girlfriend and wanting to make a good life for the both of them. He seems to look to hip hop artists for his life philosophy, which is quite interesting in itself. You aren't quite sure the whole time what is reality and what is dream/imagination. I suppose that's what makes it fun. The artwork is all black and white, but beautiful in its simplicity.

A random grab from my library graphic novel shelves, and a delightful find. I love to read books with Asian leads, and this is one I'd recommend if you want something different and off the beaten path.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

His Revenge Baby by Theodora Taylor

His Revenge Baby: 50 Loving States, WashingtonHis Revenge Baby: 50 Loving States, Washington by Theodora Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will be blatantly honest. If I was rating this book by part I, it would be getting three stars and nothing more. However, the book in whole gets four. The beginning of this book is probably one of the most unromantic starts to a romance I've ever read. A hero who has a serial history of paying for mistresses for six months for the better part of ten years but is so tied up and proper, they can't even call him by his first name? The heroine interviewing for him naked? No thanks! She's not allowed to touch him or be seen with him and has to call him, Mr. Nakamura. She does all the work in bed?

No is really unsympathetic and actually rather robotic at the beginning. I don't even understand why he would hire mistresses. He seems like he shouldn't even have a sex drive. He is so tied up and controlled, it's hard to believe that he could fall in love with a woman. Much less have sex with so many women. Perhaps that's his only outlet, but I would have found this more believable if he had actually been more reactive in bed. I get where the author was going with this. She wanted us to see how being with Ana changes No, and how she was different from other women. She wanted Ana to stand out from the crowd, but it was too gradual for my tastes.

Lili/Ana I liked from the beginning. I have to say she really loves her brother and niece. I don't know if I could interview naked to be some rich guy's mistress for my family. Thank God I haven't had to do that! She does have a sense of innocence, but at the same time, she is remarkably blase' about the paid sex thing. I think without her internal monologue, I would have been very confused.

Japan seems very real in this book. I felt as though the author is very well acquainted with it and rather in love with the country. I've read books set in Tokyo, but not in Osaka. It was lovely to get introduced to that city. It's always good when you read a book and it makes you feel like you're visiting the place.

Now, I am the biggest Harlequin Presents fan on the planet, and the mistress scenario is a big plot in that line. I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of mistress stories, but I'm not averse to a preposterous plotline that works well. It was certainly something different. Overall, despite it's start and some parts that I didn't gel with, I walked away from this book satisfied. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, but I was intrigued, so I read a sample on my Kindle. I ended up borrowing it from Amazon and finishing it in less than 24 hours. That says a lot right there.

As to the sex. I think that the initial sex scenes are way clinical to me, and I didn't like the thing that No would do to make Lili climax. All I can say is 'ouch!' I didn't care much for the blunt sexual language. I'm not a big fan of that. It's not that romantic to me. I'm fine with descriptive sexual scenes, but not with some of the descriptors. Lust is easy to find, but where's the love and romance?

I really love Asian guys. It's a huge surprise to me how much No didn't appeal to me for the first part of the book. He did start to appeal to me when he gets mad and decides he wants revenge. He actually starts acting like a human being and not a robot at that point. I like pissed off No much more than Billionaire, Proper Japanese Businessman with an Erection But No Other Emotions No. I liked how he changes and thaws and starts reacting normally. I know that his family is seriously screwed up. I realize that Japanese culture is very rigid in expressing emotions and requires strict public etiquette. I liked him much better after he comes to the US to start a company with his friend and to get revenge on Lili/Ana and his father. Angry No is Hot No. At the beginning, I didn't find him attractive because he seemed so emotionless. I did kind of like how proper and buttoned up he was, but I would have preferred if he turned into a wild man in bed instead the way he has sex with Ana for their six months together. I also liked how he nursed her when she was sick and how he seemed to want to spend more time with Ana, despite his intentions. While I normally like a coldly ruthless hero, I think No didn't work for me at the beginning because he wasn't cold in the still waters run deep, but too robotic acting.

One thing that made this book stand out, but in some ways had a problematic execution was the thread of suspense/thriller that ran through it. I had no idea how cutthroat the Japanese businessworld is, at least based on this book. I don't know how much of that's true, but the fact that No's family is samurai on both sides gives their behavior an authentic feel. When you find out how truly heinous the behavior of a certain person is, it's chilling. This makes for a much darker than book that one would expect. I think it was problematic in that some of the action aspects weren't well described. I'm picky about action scenes, because it's a huge love of mine. And when you throw in katana-wielding ninja and samurai, my expectations go up very high. But, despite that, I found it charming.

I like over the top when it's done well. The OTP in this book was done charmingly. I could have been a little better executed, if I'm honest. But despite that, I did have a smile on my face when I finished the book.

I have been hard on this book, and i realize that. I do think Ms. Taylor is a gifted author. I have such a deep love for interracial romance, I am hard on the genre. I hate that the romance part seems to be taken for granted. I think Ms. Taylor seems believe in romance, but with a bit of a more jaundiced eye than I would like. I'm excited to read His Pretend Baby: 50 Loving States, Oregon

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Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this. I wasn't sure I'd get into the story, with both of the characters dealing with angst at their past failed matings. It was such a great book. I don't know why I was surprised because Nalini Singh is a fantastic writer. I've tended to be more of a Psy fan for a while, and the latest books in the series that were Changeling/Changeling mating weren't my favorites. However, this book broke that negative streak for me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Psy storyline is so prominent! Riaz is a cool guy. He's a strong dominant, but he's also a very caring man. He comes off as being a jerk at first, but it's just him trying to deal with his soul-deep hurt. He's attracted to Adria, another dominant soldier in the SnowDancer pack. It's inconvenient and powerful. When she suggests they become lovers to deal with their need for skin to skin contact as changelings, he rebuffs her in a hurtful way. But he isn't able to stop his feelings for her. I liked how Nalini Singh dealt with the idea of fated mates not working out like one would expect. In this case, Riaz fated mate is someone else and he can't have her. Adria chose a partner who wasn't strong enough to handle her as a dominant female. It broke her heart. She's not in a position to fall in love again. I like that she isn't going to let Riaz walk all over her. He has to earn her trust and she does continue to guard her heart because of the fact that she's not Riaz's true mate. However, their love grows naturally and deeply. It's almost as though the whole concept of fated mates is turned on its ears in this book. But it's done so well, I was happy with the result. I loved how Riaz continues to woo Adria and show his love for her. The ongoing suspense story about the PsyNet breaking down--and Pure Psy's attempts to destroy it so that people can go back to their rigid and pure form of Silence--continues. This book follows up after Kiss of Snow and Sienna's manifestation as a powerful X-Psy, and what that means. Sienna and Hawke's relationship is still prominent in this book, but that's fine with me. I love them as a couple, and it's great to see how well things are going for them. The Arrows have their own plans in helping their people, and they form an alliance with Kaleb Krychek, a powerful Psy who has some motivations that aren't 100% clear. And there's some very good news for a past mated pair. This storyline just continues to grow and the connection between the Psy, Changelings, and Humans becomes more rich and complicated with each book. The Humans aren't the frail, ineffectual agents in this world that one might believe. Far from it. I'm so excited to read Kaleb, Vasic and Aden's book. When I started this book, I was mainly just reading it so I could make it to the next books, which are Psy-oriented. But I ended up enjoying this enormously.
Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family, #4)Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My sister and I listened to this on Playaway in the car as we did our usual car commuting. I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. I know that many fans weren't that happy with it. To my surprise, I really bonded with Avery. I got her. I understood her fears and what drove her and why she was trying so hard to avoid a relationship with Joe. It was funny how I would have a thought about the story and it would pop up either in the dialogue or Avery's thoughts.

I do also have to say that this nails some very integral aspects of Texas culture. I found that highly enjoyable. It was also interesting that Avery is a Texas woman to her core, but she connected to living in New York so much.

I loved Avery's relationship with her sister Sofia and the employees of her wedding/event planning company. Sofia and Steven's relationship definitely had me thinking that their sparks were of the romantic kind. I liked how Avery and Sofia were so close, despite meeting as adults. I'm very close to my sister, so I totally got the sister love between them. I loved the affection and loyalty they showed to each other. It felt very authentic.

As far as the romance, I wasn't 100% satisfied with it. I know that most of that is due to the 1st person POV format. It just doesn't work well for romance. I think that for me, I need to have access to both the characters to see the romance in a 360 degree view. I was forced to wonder and surmise how Joe felt based on what Avery saw or what he did in the book. I sometimes wondered what was defense mechanism or merely reacting to what Avery said or did.

I liked Joe, a lot, but he did let me down in a major way. (view spoiler)

I think my issue with this book is the same with the Travis series. I just don't care much for 1st person romance. I will always love the books, because Lisa Kleypas is a fantastic writer, and even my least favorites by her are still well-written. I did like catching up with the Travises. I really wish this had been multiple 1st person, because I really missed Joe's POV. I don't think I got to know him nearly as well I wanted. Hardy is still my favorite. Oh, that man! I could eat him off a spoon. But Joe is dreamy, and I loved him with Avery. Avery won me over and I really felt a kinship with her. I think I would like her in real life, and hanging out with her Sofia would be a lot of fun.

This was a very Texas book, with a couple of women that I felt like could be my friends in real life, and that was nice!

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Dark Paradise by Sara Craven

Dark ParadiseDark Paradise by Sara Craven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't have strong feelings about this book. It was different from what I expected. Matt's reasons for taking Kate to the Caribbean were more involved than just revenge. That part was kind of different. Matt is actually a nice guy, but Kate has already prejudged him as a jerk because of a bad experience in her last relationship. The way she talked to him at the wedding reception was pretty cold. I wish that some of the jerky heroes in the other Harlequin Presents I've read where they deserved it had been given that set down. Normally, I think the Vintage HPs are more exciting, but this one wasn't really. It wasn't bad. Kind of forgettable.

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Vows of Revenge by Dani Collins

Vows of RevengeVows of Revenge by Dani Collins
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It's hard to say what I felt about this book. Probably why I procrastinated my review. The writing is very good, and I think the author went deeper with the story. I think that for a HP book, the relationship feels very realistic. The drama isn't manufactured, even when the author could have gone for one of those easy HP drama tactics (that admittedly I love since i am a drama hound).

Roman is a complicated guy. He is very emotionally disconnected and is not good at expressing himself verbally as far as emotions. He sends out a lot of mixed signals to Melodie and then doesn't understand the way she reacts to him as a form of self-protection. If it was about sex and being generous with his money, he'd probably be the perfect boyfriend, but that's rarely enough for a woman after a while. I was surprised at the vulnerability that Roman shows when he admits that he's used to women ending relationships because of his remoteness. And the fact that it bothers him that Melodie thinks he's one of the bad guys initially. He pursues her, sexually like a volcano, but holds himself back emotionally. I think that Melodie was brave to keep going with him, not knowing how he felt about her, and when she suspects it, that fear of rejection holding her back. I like that he's 100% self-made and it hasn't been easy for him. He's suffered some major hardships in his short life. I just wish that he wasn't such a wreck at being emotionally available.

Melodie has her own issues. Her father is despicable. And she's lived in the shadow of his inability to show love for his children and his wife, and her feelings of inadequacy. She turned her back on his money with strings attached and has been trying to make it on her own, and Roman has a habit of messing that up for her. She's conflicted about their relationship and its tone, but she has feelings for him that don't seem to want to go away.

The love scenes were very sexy and well-written. There's a lot of chemistry between them and they set the pages on fire together. From the beginning, there's a powerful string that keeps pulling them together. But I loved when Roman finally says how he feels for Melodie. She doesn't have to guess or try to read his behavior. It's all on the table. And it's clear that Roman isn't going to take it for granted in the future.

I think some readers will love this book. Very much a modern romance, although with a traditional happy ending.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

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Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1)Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My sister and I listened to this in the car on our trips around town. In that week or more we spent together, I felt like Odd became part of my life. I was rather sad when it ended. I appreciated the audiobook format very much. I think it was very immersive, and Koontz words were very poetic. Odd is such a unique guy. He's got a pure heart and that's saying something. His gift has made his life very difficult, but he doesn't take it like a curse. It's his life, and he takes ownership of that. He protects his town of Pico Mundo with a steadfast and vigilant dedication, and his only aspiration in life is to be with his true love, Stormy Llewellyn.

"Odd Thomas" is a story about a young man who sees ghosts and who does his part to resolve what has wronged them. When he meets a very strange man on what seems like a typical day, his life will change inevitably.

This book takes place over a short few days, but they are action packed days for Odd and the reader. He's trying to solve a mystery. What is drawing all these boggarts, which are dark spirits that Odd sees when something bad is going to happen. The weird man that Odd calls Fungus Man has so many around him that it makes Odd suspicious, and when he goes to the man's house, he sees something terrible, that makes Odd's fears for the town grow exponentially. This suspense thread goes throughout the book and leads to a dramatic conclusion.

Odd is a bit of an unlikely hero, but he is perfectly suited to be the hero of this novel. His way of processing things is very down-to-earth but quite brilliant. I love a good mystery with an intelligent sleuth, and while this is a ghost story, this is also a good suspense story.

It's also heartbreaking because you know that no matter what Odd does, people are going to die. He can only minimize the damage. In that sense, and in others, Odd is a very tragic hero. When the reader gets a glimpse at Odd's family life, it makes you wonder how this young man can be so well-adjusted, friendly, oddly hopeful, and in his own way content. But the good news is although his family is pretty awful, he has formed his own family of friends who love him deeply.

"Odd Thomas" is different for Koontz, but some of those touches that are so integral to his style are there. This is like his version of the coming of age novel, with a boy-man who sees ghosts and rights their wrongs, his typical sicko villain. I recommend reading this, and if you can get the audiobook version, I especially recommend that.

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Mind Game by Christine Feehan

Mind Game (GhostWalkers, #2)Mind Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reread in the Month of July, 2016 (Buddy Read with Lacy--she's still on the first book. :)

My thoughts:

I love Dahlia and Nicolas together. They fit together. Both of them so isolated from others and yearning for connection and significance. Dahlia is feisty and doesn't take crap. She can handle a tough, scary guy like Nicolas. He fell like a ton of bricks, which is how I love my heroes. The action was on point as usual, and the romance was luscious. I love the scene where Dahlia calls Nicolas on staring at her breasts (because of the psychic connection, she could feel it). That as priceless.

I just fall more and more in love with these books. Each reread is a new horizon in my discovery and love for them.

****Thoughts on Reread from May 10-May 13, 2012

I was very intrigued with Nico from Shadow Game, for his dark, lethally dangerous, very controlled aura, and how he seemed to fade into the shadows. I thought he'd make for a very good hero in his own book. His story lived up to his potential, both the first and second times.


I like his controlled, ice cool persona, but also how Dahlia penetrates through his icy facade when no one else does. I also liked how he was very smitten with her early on and wanted to find a way for them to be together. He was protective and caring for her, but he realized that Dahlia was an independent woman, and he respected that about her. Even though she was going to go do her job, he was waiting for her in the shadows, there to protect her. I saw growth in his character from Shadow Game, or at least an expansion of his dimensions. He isn't or will ever be gregarious, but I was able to see how important Dahlia, the GhostWalkers, and Lily are to him. I also appreciated his dual background as Lakota and Japanese. I very much appreciate Asian main characters, and Nico whets my appetite for more!


Dahlia is tough as nails. Despite her considerable disabilities, she manages to live a productive life. I certainly wouldn't want her abilities, with the horrible cost that comes with them. I can see why she feared she couldn't have a future with Nicolas, but I was very glad that they were able to work it out. Nico wasn't going to give up on her, and she needed someone to believe in after what Whitney had done to her, and the half-life she'd been living. I like that she also has depth as a character. Not a stereotype, but a full-fledged person. She's beautiful and delicate in her looks, but highly agile, and very strong for what she's dealt with her in life. I like that she doesn't back down from a challenge, and can handle a somewhat commanding man like Nico. I was very glad to revisit her character, and I hope she shows up again in Sam's book.

Overall Thoughts--

Great sexual chemistry, and otherwise. I loved the interchanges between Nico and Dahlia, and between them and the other characters. I loved how the GWs world expands with the introduction of Jesse Calhoun and his team of Navy SEALs. This is the book where we get introduced to the Norton twins, and they build expectations that they live up to very well. Some of the suspense elements were a bit hard to follow, but interesting all the same. I liked this book even more on reread, maybe because I had more time to focus on it when I read it the first time.

Next is Night Game with the smooth-talker Gator and his Flame. Looking forward to it!

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Original Review

I was so excited to read Nicolas' story when I met him in Shadow Game. And I was not disappointed. He was a great hero. I loved his ability to stay in control, but also the fact that one person, Dahlia made his ice cold blood turn molten. He can't seem to understand why this one little woman is the person who can turn his brain into mush and light his body on fire, when he is known for his ability to do what needs to be done without letting emotions get into the way. This is why he takes on the mission to bring in Dahlia when she is known to be a potentially dangerous loose cannon from Dr. Whitney's group of young girls he experimented on.

I thought that the chemistry and the connection between Nicolas and Dahlia was classic. They are a perfect couple and the scenes of them interacting were memorable and delightful, and not just the love scenes, which were pretty incendiary, if you ask me. This book had a lot more action and intrigue than Shadow Game, and Dahlia is a lot more tortured than Lily was. I felt sorry for Dahlia to be so affected by other people's emotions that they made her sick or made her manifest the excess energy as fire. Her situation is a tough one, but Nicolas is there to help her and protect her every step of the way, and he stakes his claim early on and isn't about to let anything take her away from him. You start the book wondering how this couple can get the happy ending that you crave, but you don't end this book disappointed. I was quite impressed with Ms. Feehan's imagination. I have read and watched books with people who are psychically gifted, but the direction that she took with the subject matter was different and exciting.

Mind Game was the kind of book that was hard to put down, and also makes you eager for more stories about the GhostWalkers. Meeting all these delicious, dangerous men is like getting invited to an All Books One Cent sale (or chocolate, whatever your addiction is). And we get introduced to even more GhostWalkers who are just as yummy, such as Jess Calhoun, and the Norton Twins. Can't wait to read their stories. Oh, wait, I do have other books I have to read that aren't Ghost Walkers books. But at least I can look forward to more Ghost Walker books with anticipation. Again I enjoyed the camaraderie between the Ghost Walkers and their gentle care and adoption of Dahlia, who has always felt like an outsider, and has lost the little family that she ever had. I really enjoyed this book, and finished it knowing that I am thoroughly addicted to the Ghost Walker series.

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